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How Long Does It Actually Take to Drive around New Zealand?

Driving holidays in New Zealand belong on every bucket list. Before you’re tempted to put in for annual leave and tell the kids, take a moment to understand the specifics and pleasures of this modern road-trip capital.

The Land of the Long White Cloud is smaller than Australia, larger than England and minute compared to the USA, so it would be logical to assume everything is relatively close-by… an hour or two away at most, right?

No. Although New Zealand is small, it isn’t quite so tiny as ten minutes here and twenty minutes there. There are long, winding roads, mountain chains, river systems, large lakes and thick forests; non-stop is not an option in Aotearoa, as you’ll soon discover.

Going the Distance

To keep things in perspective, the North Island is 829km long from top to southern tip, demanding 12 hours of straight drive time between the township of Kaitaia and the southern city of Wellington. The South Island is marginally larger at 840km, taking up to 14 hours in perfect driving conditions, from the ferry port of Picton to the appropriately dubbed Bluff, balancing on the bottom edge.

Soak Up the New Zealand Scenery

Working out what to do first, second and third is the difficult part of planning a New Zealand self-driving tour. Difficult because who doesn’t want to see it all? The best, the most, the hot-spots, and little-known local gems off the well-worn path… before abandoning Google Maps completely, we recommend plotting out a starting, middle and concluding point. Or we can do it for you. To get you started, here are some of our popular New Zealand Self-Drive Itineraries.

Inspired? Excited? You don’t need to do it all yourself. We’re waiting to help you plan the perfect New Zealand driving adventure for you and your family.


Contact us and we can help you book your New Zealand experience!